Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez cross the finish line ahead of Flavien Prat and Country House, but Maximum Security was disqualified and placed 17th
In a motion to dismiss Gary and Mary West’s lawsuit disputing the disqualification of their homebred Maximum Security as the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, saying the Wests’ action “threatens to turn the ‘most exciting two minutes in sports’ into tedious, protracted litigation.’”
The motion, filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky’s Lexington Division on June 8, states that the Wests “fail to state a claim against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, its stewards, members and executive director.”
Citing Kentucky statute giving the racing commission “full authority to prescribe necessary and reasonable administrative regulations and conditions under which horse racing at a horse racing meeting shall be conducted,” the commission said it relies upon its stewards as the stewards to “exercise immediate supervision, control and regulation of racing.”
Further, the motion states, under Section 4 of regulations, stewards are responsible for the “final determination” of objections resulting from actions in a race. The regulation states, “Findings of fact and determination shall be final and shall not be subject to appeal.”
The Wests, the motion states, “agreed to the rules of horse racing in the Commonwealth” when they applied for a license to race in Kentucky, thus “agreed to the commission’s regulations and agreed that the stewards’ determinations are final.”
The lawsuit was filed May 14, 10 days after Maximum Security crossed the finish line of the Kentucky Derby 1 ¾ lentos in front of Country House. Objections by Flavien Prat, aboard Country House, and Jon Court, aboard Long Range Toddy, alleged interference by Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez on the stretch turn. Stewards reviewed different video angles of the incident, spoke by telephone with some of the jockeys involved and unanimously voted to disqualify the winner for committing a foul for the first time in the race’s 145-year history, placing Country House first and Maximum Security 17th.
The lawsuit claims the disqualification is not supported by substantial evidence of the whole record, is deficient and exceeds the statutory authority of the commission, that the Wests were denied due process and that the stewards abused their discretion by ordering the disqualification.
The motion to dismiss, filed by Carmine G. Iaccarino of the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, said the court should follow established case law “and dismiss the Wests’ attempt to appeal the unappealable and to claim a property interest not recognized by Kentucky law.”
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